Anger, torment grip Uvalde residents as details emerge on police response to the shooting

Friday was supposed to be the first day of summer break for students in Uvalde, Texas. Instead the community is still reeling from the shooting that left 19 children and two school teachers dead. Days after the attack, new details are emerging about the law enforcement response and the terror inside classrooms at Robb Elementary School. Amna Nawaz reports from Uvalde.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Today was supposed to be the first day of summer break for students in Uvalde, Texas.

    Instead, the community is still reeling from the shooting that left 19 children and two schoolteachers dead. Days after the attack, there are more questions than answers. But we are learning new details about the law enforcement response and the terror inside classrooms at Robb Elementary School.

    Amna Nawaz is in Uvalde tonight.

    Amna, first, tell us what you have learned.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Judy, here in Uvalde, the more we learn, the worse it gets.

    Officials today laid out the most in-depth timeline to date of what exactly happened during Tuesday's shooting detailing the 78 minutes that passed before authorities finally confronted the gunman, even as children trapped inside the classroom called 9/11, begging for help.

    Three days after the deadly rampage that left 19 of Uvalde's youngest dead, grief and anger commingle in this tightly knit community.

    Dora Martinez, Grandmother of Victim (through translator): I will never have my baby again. And they need to do something about it. They need to not forget the babies, the kids.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Javier Cazares' daughter Jacklyn was killed on Tuesday. He was outside the school during the shooting in disbelief over the police response.

    Javier Cazares, Father of Shooting Victim: They were there without proper equipment. I saw they were — 15, 20 minutes later, they came with their shields. Like, that should have been in their cars, and going in, not waiting 30, 45 minutes to get in.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Vincent Salazar's 11-year-old daughter, Layla, was one of the victims.

    Vincent Salazar, Father of Shooting Victim: How fast can you act? I mean, I don't know. I don't know how much of a difference it would have made if — maybe they could have acted faster. That remains to be seen.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Today, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw, offered the most detailed timeline to date. Just before 11:30 a.m., the gunman crashes his truck near the school. A teacher calls 911, and the gunman begins shooting inside school windows. At 11:33, the gunman enters the school through a door officials say was propped open by a teacher and begins shooting into two classrooms. At 11:35, Uvalde police officers enter via the same door and take fire from the gunman.

    Multiple rounds are fired for the next several minutes. More officers continue to arrive. And by 12:03, there are 19 officers in the hallway outside the locked classrooms. Beginning at 12:03, a student from inside the classroom begins calling 911. Officials say she whispers as she talks and makes several calls. She shares how many are dead, how many are alive and that the gunman shot at the door.

    During one call more than 30 minutes after her first, she begs: "Please send the police now."

  • Steven McCraw, Director, Texas Department Of Public Safety:

    They breached the door using keys that they were able to get from the janitor, because both doors were locked. Both the classrooms he shot into were locked when officers arrived. They killed the suspect.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    It's still not clear if the 19 officers in the hallway knew at the time there were children alive inside the classroom.

  • Steven McCraw:

    The on-scene commander considered it a barricaded subject and that there was time and there were no more children at risk.

    Obviously, based upon the information we have, there were children in the classroom that were at risk, and it was, in fact, still an active shooter situation. And for the benefit of hindsight, where I'm sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision, period.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The news here in downtown Uvalde was met with frustration, anger and confusion.

  • Irma Ynclan, San Antonio Pastor:

    What happened? An hour's worth of time that nobody went in? What happened? I don't know what happened. But I know one thing. My husband is a retired firefighter. And when 9/11 happened, firefighters were running in.

    They were going up. They weren't coming down. And they knew that, when they were going up, they wouldn't be coming back down. What happened? Why did it take so long for them to get in?

  • Jackie Vilches, San Antonio Resident:

    As a parent, I think I would have been rushed in there without thinking twice. I don't care if they would have Tased me or taken me down. I think I would have done whatever I needed to do to try and get my children out of that school.

    And I'm still really confused about that, why they waited so long to get in there.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Later this afternoon, Texas Governor Greg Abbott had this response.

  • Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX):

    I was misled. I am livid about what happened. My expectation is that the law enforcement leaders that are leading the investigations, which includes the Texas rangers and the FBI, they get to the bottom of every fact with absolute certainty.

    There are people who deserve answers the most. And those are the families whose lives have been destroyed. They need answers that are accurate. And it is inexcusable that they may have suffered from any inaccurate information.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Uvalde's collective grief has manifested here, a makeshift memorial in the town square. Hearts heavy and arms full, their offerings now piled high at the foot of each cross, flowers at the base and stuffed animals for these youngest victims.

    Tess Mata was 10 years old, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary School. Some of her soccer teammates came together last evening to lay flowers, scribble notes and just remember their friend.

    You know, Judy, for days now, as the community has mourned, the question has loomed, could more have been done to possibly save some of those lives of the 19 children and two teachers?

    With today's revelations and the massive failures it's now clear were made in the immediate response, the answer is a heartbreaking yes — Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Amna, it's just impossible to imagine what these families, these parents of these children who were inside the school are thinking or feeling right now.

    I know you have been talking to several of them. What are they telling you?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Judy, the parents who lost children are now left to wonder, what if? What if police had acted sooner? What if more had been done? Would my child be alive today?

    They are now busy staying with each other, mourning, making funeral preparations.

    And we can also now share that an El Paso funeral home more than seven hours away has offered to donate and truck in caskets for those youngest victims, because Uvalde will need so many more of those smaller caskets.

    But I should mention, I spoke with the mother of one student who survived the shooting. That is 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo. She survived that in her classroom. She mentioned to her mother after she got out that her teacher had been shot, her friends had been shot. Her mother says she dipped her hands in their blood and smeared it on herself to — and laid still so the gunman would not know that she was alive.

    Her mother also says Miah was one of those students who was calling 911 and asking for help. Her mother says Miah could hear the police officers in the hallway outside her classroom and didn't understand why they weren't coming inside to help them. And her mother is very angry.

    She says she doesn't know why the people that they tell their children to trust and to call for help didn't do so. She believes, if police had acted sooner, that more children would be alive today, like her daughter — Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It's just impossible to comprehend this.

    So, Amna, as you talk to them, where does all this frustration, this anger that they're feeling go? Are they — are they telling you now what they want to see happen?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Certainly, as we reported, there will be some level of accountability. There will be investigations into the police response at the state, possibly the federal level as well.

    But parents here know nothing's going to bring back their children. And Uvalde now, like so many communities racked by this kind of violence has been forever changed, right? But this does raise many questions, Judy, we're hearing here about exactly how much more can be done to protect students, how much more can be done to harden schools, when you have this kind of a situation, the gunman in this case with two assault rifles and, officials revealed today, over 1,600 rounds of ammunition.

    The steps that were put into place here, that had been put in place at schools across the country just did not work. There was no police officer on site. The door was not locked. And when the police arrived, they didn't do what they were trained to do. They did not confront and eventually neutralize that gunman until many of those children were dead.

    And so we're left with this bigger question, because this is now what children are trained to do, right? It's been striking to see over the last three days just how much of that safety burden has shifted to children in this situation.

    All children in America go through lockdown drills. My kids, many of our viewers, kids since the age of 4 or 5, they know their hiding place. They know they have to go and stay quiet. And when you talk to the kids here, that's exactly what they did.

    Even though the adults didn't do what they were trained to do, the kids did. I talked to a third grader yesterday, an 8-year-old, who told me, even though he was in the cafeteria during lunch when the shooting happened, he knew he had to run and hide. And he did exactly that, even though he wasn't in his classroom where he'd run through those drills.

    And I asked him, how did you know to do that? Did a teacher tell you? Did an officer tell you? And he said: "No. No one told me. I just knew that I had to" — Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Just the heartbreak, the anger, again, it's just incomprehensible.

    Amna, thank you very much.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Thanks, Judy.

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